MAD AS HELL!
And We’re NOT Going To Take It Anymore!!!
It’s TIME to either accept what Qwest and our “elected politicians” are doing to take away our benefits and jeopardize our pensions, or you can STAND UP AND JOIN THE FIGHT.
Time is not on our side. As the elections for Congress, Senate, and the office of President draw near, Corporations are taking advantage of the opportunity to increase the cost of healthcare benefits to their employees and retirees. With Congress and the Administration trying to improve the economy by any means available, Corporations know that they might have a chance to get out from under the burden of defined pension plans and promised health care coverage. Their plan appears to be supported by big labor and promoted by our government – here’s a summary of what they’re planning:
§ WEAKEN ERISA (pension protection legislation) – HR 1776 Portman - Cardin bill would reduce the funding requirement for pensions – possibly weakening pension funds to the point that companies could be forced to reduce or discontinue them! We need to SHOUT “NO”!
§ ELIMINATE or reduce the support of health care and prescription drug benefits – the current Baucus-Grassley Prescription Drug Amendment could give the green light to companies including Qwest, to eliminate the prescription medicine coverage and push Medicare eligible seniors to this plan. Non-Medicare eligible retirees could be left in the cold. (We know this is bad legislation because Congress immediately acted to protect federal retirees from this change!) We need to “STOP” this amendment NOW! UPDATE: A last minute addition to the Senate bill would amend the Age Discrimination in Employment Act to expressly allow employers to eliminate ALL retiree health benefits (not just prescription drugs) for retirees eligible for Medicare! This goes to a vote in Early November…Call your Senator TODAY!
§ WEAKEN EEOC protections against discrimination – The EEOC has suggested allowing corporations to discontinue health benefits for seniors who are on Medicare…Think about how this could impact your benefits & prescription coverage and SAY NO!
What can you do? First you’ve got to get MAD then you need to get up and:
1. Write a check to the AUSWR to continue to fight for you both locally with the Qwest leadership and nationally in partnership with the National Legislative Retiree Network (NRLN). Your volunteer state or area board members, led by Nelson Phelps, are willing to go to the mat to protect these benefits and our pensions but they cannot do it alone. The AUSWR needs money to finance the legal, shareholder, and local battles if we are to prevail. If you’re not concerned about yourself, think about your spouse or the surviving spouse of your retiree friend. If you are not sure what to do, ask a friend or a family member to help you protect your future. Just because the Phelps lawsuit protects pre-1991 retirees (and ERO retirees) health care coverage now, there’s no protection for benefits like concession service or the death benefit. It’s time to push, pull, or get out of the way…let us know if you are not interested in our help and we’ll take you off the mailing list.
2. Write to your Congressman, Senator, and local newspaper; call radio talk-show programs; discuss this with your associates at church, social, or other gatherings; tell them about your concerns over losing the pension and health care benefits that you were promised. Let them know that it’s not just Qwest but all companies trying to steal from the retirees. The next time you receive a request from a politician for money, do this…Write a note on their request and say “I will not support you with my money or my vote until you support the provisions outlined in HR1322 (Emergency Retiree Health & Benefits Protection Act) to protect my retiree benefits!” Then put this back in their self-addressed, stamped envelop and mail it back to them!
3. Stay informed…. Read the papers, magazines; watch the business news. Listen to how companies are twisting the facts to make it look like the employees and retirees are the ones driving the companies into bankruptcy!
With your support your AUSWR will:
1. Retain Curtis Kennedy as legal council to identify the proper course of action to protect the Death Benefit. (Qwest has threatened to eliminate this benefit but agreed to delay the decision after our loud protests.) This benefit comes out of the pension plan and is equal to 1 year’s salary at the time of your retirement. (Your designated beneficiary must ask for this within 1 year of your death or they lose it!) The Death Benefit is in addition to the life insurance coverage of 1 year’s salary at the time of retirement – reduced by 10% after age 65 until at age 70 it is 50% of the last year’s salary.
2. Retain Curtis Kennedy as legal council to determine the real status of our pension fund. A Department of Labor audit was conducted but we have not been given access to the results. Available reports from Qwest are over 1 year in arrears – we have identified questionable handling of $68M of our pension fund that was invested in foreign currency options and in the course of a year dwindled down to $700,000! We want to know why this happened and what other “investments” were made!
3. Develop a direct dialog with the Qwest Board of Directors to hold them accountable for decisions impacting not only the retirees but also the solvency of the company.
4. Develop and present shareholder proposals to eliminate excessive executive compensation, the use of the pension fund to offset company losses, and to place a retiree representative on the Board of Directors.
5. Get in the face of our legislators – locally and nationally to push the message that retirees are Mad as Hell and we are not going to take it anymore!
6. Your volunteer AUSWR board will continue to spend hours working on your behalf to put a voice to our issues. We will continue to be the “retiree’s advocate” and help ensure benefit claims and questions are resolved. We will continue to communicate with you to ensure you are informed…but we must know that these issues are important to you.
Donations can be sent to your State’s AUSWR Treasurer. Visit our website at www.uswestretiree.org for more information